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Sarah Barber’s Country House is a collection of anti-pastoral poetry that celebrates landscapes with attention to and appreciation for the surrealist absurdities and imperfect delights that mark life in the Anthropocene. Punchy and elegant, Barber’s poems reintroduce readers to the strange beauty of a world they only thought they knew.
Precision is not care, or it is—but care that cuts, both ways. Country House dwells deceptively in its landscapes of “bare//storefronts and rocky farms.” The poems in this relentlessly gorgeous volume insist on the ordering of language and image as a bulwark against brutality…. There is nothing simple here, nothing that has not been honed to a fine tip in the too short daylight of a long winter, nothing that doesn’t serve at least two purposes in kitchen or yard, bed or mind.
Country House is a book that speaks vividly of the inherited earth. In language at once delicate and muscular, smart and sharp, these poems question what we accept of the places and lands we label with “home”…. There is astute playfulness in poems about potatoes, chickens, herbs, stock animals, and the “sweet Instagrammable strawberries” that could just as easily emerge from the latest 3-D printer. This book wants to know what we are too hungry to reveal; what flora, fads, and foods we knowingly consume for healing or for poison.”